I was reading a really great article on Huffington Post today about reading to your kid and it got me to thinking about the ways in which I’ve made reading fun for Violet.
Since she was about one-year-old I’ve tried to read Violet a couple stories each night before bedtime. Not only does it help her wind down and let her know that bed time is at hand, but I really want her to be a big reader.
Reading is so key in life, man. Every brilliant person I know is a big reader. In fact, I’m hard pressed to think of an intelligent, deep thinker in my life who isn’t an avid reader.
I’ve loved books my entire life and often got flack from my mom and brothers for bringing a book to the dinner table. And hey, I’m way brilliant.
So far, all my hard work is paying off. Violet loves books. After we get done with her evening stories I’ll leave her light on so she can read them herself. And she does! From memory. Along the way I’ve learned some easy and fun tips and tricks for keeping your kids engrossed in the books:
1. Use awesome voices for each character: Come on! Get your read on! None of this monotone, narration crap. I alter my voice so drastically while reading that I feel like a doof. But Violet loves it. Recently she’s even started mimicking my voices when she “reads” to herself and it’s the cutest thing you’ve ever heard.
2. Sit on each page for several minutes pointing out things your kid may not have noticed. For example: “Look Violet! Do you see the butterfly! It’s so beautiful!” Or “Do you see the fish in the water? Let’s count the fish!” That kind of thing. You can see her doing that on her own in the video below.
3. Let your child choose the book. Don’t force books on your kid. You can suggest new books you think they’ll like but if, after a few minutes, they aren’t into it ask them what book they’d like to read. This is fun time for them. Even though that may mean reading the same book eighty million times in two weeks, do it! If you haven’t noticed by now, kids LOVE repetition. Where you may be tired of that book, they’re just now recognizing what comes next which helps build excitement for reading!
4. Talk about the book after you’ve finished.
For example, Violet is currently into this book called The Little Red Caboose. We read it three times in a row most nights. After we’re all done I’ll say something like “Wasn’t that so neat when the Big Black Engine showed up and pushed the train up the hill?” She replies with “That was so cool!” Then I’ll say “The Little Red Caboose is so cute!” and she’ll agree and say something like “That was so fun!” See? We’re having a conversation about a book. I smell book club in her adult future!
5. Sound effects are AWESOME. Speaking of trains, you cannot read a book about trains without throwing in a CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHOOO CHOOO! It’s against the rules. Violet has a book called The Little Red Hen and each time the cat says something I follow it up with a MEEEOW. Likewise for the dog and cat. See a cow on the page? Point out the cow and ask what the cow says. MOOOOO. Violet as also taken to doing the sound effects when she reads on her own as you’ll see in the video below.
6. Ask deeper questions about what’s happening on each page. Take the very awesome The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. It’s about a little boy who gets up and goes outside to play in the snow and then comes in to take a bath and go to bed. As Lisa Belkin writes on Huffington Post you can focus on your child’s comprehension by asking questions like “Does Peter ear breakfast at morning or at night?” Or “How does Peter make a snow angel?”
7. Make reading sound like a treat. Attitude is everything, baby. If you don’t like reading and act exhausted and bored by reading the same book over and over again, your child will mimic your emotion. But if you treat it like, say, an ice cream cone your kid will view it that way as well. I say stuff like “Let’s get your jammies on and then you can pick out any story you want for mama to read!” Also, I no matter what I’m doing, if Violet approaches me with a story I drop everything to read it to her at least once. Reading a kid’s book takes, what? Five minutes, tops. I don’t ever want to turn her away.